Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Long Weekend in Mexico

We just arrived home 24 hours ago after a spectacular 4 day Easter Weekend in Mexico! Puerto Penasco, otherwise known as Rocky Point, is a regional tourist destination about 70 miles south of the US/Mexico border, lying at the northern edge of the Sea of Cortez. It is certainly the closest seashore to Tucson. The beaches there are a popular place for students and youngsters of all ages for water play of all sorts. The shrimping industry is legendary, and fresh seafood of all sorts abounds. Because of the abundance of tourism, the hospitality trade has been a growth industry and hotels, condos and resorts have seen a boom, though the economic slowdown has cut deeply into the local economy.

But for this Easter Weekend, and likely the last weekend of spring break, there was no apparent slowdown of tourists to us - the place was packed! We tried to get into town for dinner Friday night, but the police had closed the streets as it better resembled a parking lot!

We had scored an invitation from our friend Margie, who shares ownership in a residential area of town. Her house, located in the third row of houses from the beach, is a perfect bungalow for her and visiting friends. The floor plan seemed perfect, and grew on us the more time we spent there. While the house is only 12 feet wide, it is L shaped, and has 3 bedrooms on the ground floor. The second floor has a nice living room and kitchen with an outdoor covered patio that, at least this time of year, was a perfect outside living area for eating meals, watching the sea, local bird population, and generally relaxing without roasting in the sun. The highlight for the amateur astronomers among us is the upper level exposed to sky where telescopes or binoculars can be set up for sky or sea observations. The entire weekend had perfect weather, standard desert springtime, with temperatures moderated by the sea to about 75F maximum, with lows perhaps in the 50s. I didn't venture into the water, but Melinda, who spent an afternoon at the beach, reports the water was cool but comfortable.

The views were just astounding - I imagined it would be similar to the seaside views from Greece or Italy. It was hard getting used to the intense blue of the water after spending so much time in the desert, but there it was! The view from the covered living area shows a relaxed Linda and Rick, who were also visiting, Melinda and Margie. A climb up another spiral staircase took you to the upper deck. Here is the view to the east, where the "Belt of Venus" - really the shadow of the earth cast by the setting sun into the eastern sky, appeared after sunset. Melinda is scanning the waterline with Margie's 25X100 binoculars. The view to the west is similarly impressive, here showing not only the Venus and Mercury conjunction, but the mountains of Baja, California over 120 miles away to the west. Make sure to click on the images for the full size views!

The decks weren't restricted to astronomical views either! We spent a lot of time watching local birds. Around town there are numerous platforms built 8 meters or so off the ground, many of which were occupied by Ospreys. Evidently, their population is recovering in number, as we saw many pairs. The ones shown here evidently had a clutch of eggs as the nest was always occupied, this shot taken right at a changing of the guard. I was amazed we got photos this good as this nest was at least 150 meters away (also visible in the lower left corner of the Venus sunset shot above), taken with the little Meade 80mm F/6 and Melinda's Canon T1i. Also frequently visible were a variety of hummingbirds visiting the Bougainvillea of Margie's neighbor. They flitted by pretty quickly, so this one was caught by her Sigma 300mm auto focus zoom lens.

We've got lots more stories to tell, including shopping, food and some of the local homes and architecture, but this is good for a start. Stay tuned!

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